Sunday, 12 June 2011

Dim Sum in Guangzhou @ 海雲軒

Sunday mornings in Guangzhou are very different to those in the UK in that the city is well and truly awake at a very early hour. This is clearly evident by the fact that the city's many dim sum restaurants are usually full to bursting by 10am. So it was no surprise that when we arrived at my uncle's local dim sum joint, we had to wait for a table, and even after we were seated, it seemed like ages before the food arrived. It's just as well that it was worth the wait.

I can't remember the name of the dumplings in the above photo but they were filled with a mix of peanut paste, sesame, water chestnuts, and spring onion, with some lard to enhance flavour. A true dim sum master created these little beauties, as the wrappers were gossamer thin and the dumplings perfectly steamed. Although the filling sounds a bit weird, it works really well, as there's a salty-sweet contrast in flavour.

Whilst 'man-sized' baked cha siu bao (叉燒餐包) are commonly seen in Chinatown bakeries around the world, I've only ever seen the miniature dim sum version in Asia. I really enjoyed these freshly baked soft buns with their honey glaze and tasty roast pork filling.

More familar dishes such as siu mai (燒賣), steamed spare ribs w/chilli (蒸排骨), and steamed beef balls (牛肉球) were also well rendered. The latter was particularly excellent, as there was a decent amount of dried citrus peel (果皮 guo pi) in the beef ball mixture. Also worthy of mention is the excellent congee (粥 juk).

I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is life-changing dim sum (for that try The Garden Hotel) or that you should especially visit this restaurant. Mind you, the quality of the dim sum is streets ahead of most of what you'll find in the UK and better than the couple of yum cha places I visited in Hong Kong. So if you do happen to be in the Tianhe area of Guangzhou then 海雲軒 is definitely worth a visit for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

By the way, despite this place having an English name on its business card, Ocean World Restaurant, only the Chinese name, 海雲軒, is seen on its signage. The dim sum order sheet is also only in Chinese, and I'm not sure if they have an English language menu or English speaking staff.

The easiest way to get to this restaurant is to hail a taxi and show the driver the address in Chinese:

海雲軒 Ocean World Restaurant
550-556 Tianhe Bei Lu, Guangzhou, China

However, the entrance is actually on 龙口西路 (Longkou Xi Lu), which runs perpendicular to 天河北路 (Tianhe Bei Lu).


  1. I am so looking forward to going to Guangzhou and eating myself stupid for a few days.
    A silly questions, but do these restaurants serve dim sum everyday, or just at weekends ?
    At the moment not sure where else we are going, but I think Guizhou and Hunan provinces have been mentioned.Do you know much about the culinary delights of either province ?

  2. Love it that people are eating dim sum at 10am!

  3. I love the glossiness of the baked char siu buns! Like glass!

  4. Mzungu - these restaurants will tend to serve dim sum everyday. The key difference is that service starts as early as 7am and finishes around 2pm. As such, it's better to do dim sum for breakfast/brunch because some dishes will run out during lunch service.

    Both Guizhou and Hunan are part of what's termed the 'Spice Belt' but of the two, I've only sampled food from the latter. BTW - there are some Hunan joints in London such as the excellent Ba Shan in Soho and the not quite as good Golden Day on Shaftesbury Ave.

    GChick - dim sum is definitely more a breakfast/brunch affair in this part of the world.

    Su-Lin - I think the honey glaze might have been put on the buns after they were taken out of the oven. If only London dim sum joints served up these mini baked cha siu baos!

  5. The wrappers in the first photo look beautiful.

  6. kake - the delicacy of the dumplings in the first photo is indicative of the high standards of dim sum in Guangzhou. If 海雲軒 was a London restaurant then it would be amongst the capital's finest dim sum joints. But in this part of the world, it's merely a neighbourhood, albeit a damn good one, kind of place.

  7. Hmm never had dim sum for breakfast before, but it does kinda make sense. I am really looking forward to Guangzhou though.
    I've eaten at Ba Shan, but never tried Golden Day but will give it a whirl one day soon.

  8. Oh, they look so lovely - as with Su-Lin, I'm particularly taken with those glossy little cha siu bao.

    I have actually been to the Garden Hotel for dim sum in Guangzhou. And it was amazing - just wish I could go back.

    Mzungu - I've been to Hunan previously and spent about a week travelling around. Do you know whereabouts you are going? Food wise, you are in for a spicy treat! And they have great freshwater fish, esp. if you will be around Dongting lake.

  9. Sharmila - I was a bit gutted not to visit the Garden Hotel this time round, as its dim sum is legendary.